The Uganda State Minister for Health in charge of general duties, Robinah Nabbanja, was shocked when she paid an impromptu visit to Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital and found that members of the senior management had not turned up for work.
Nabbanja, who was in the company of the Kabarole Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Stephen Asiimwe, was received at the facility by the cleaners and the receptionist who took her on a tour of the hospital.
“I am very surprised that all the hospital management team, including the director and the administrator, have not been working. I decided to visit the hospital because of the outcry from the area MPs and public,” she said.
Nabbanja said there was need to improve the quality of services at the hospital, which serves nine districts in the Rwenzori region.
“I was told that health workers extort money from patients before attending to them.
I am happy that the few patients I have interacted with have not confirmed that but there is chronic absenteeism of senior hospital management staff and we shall sort it out,” she said.
Asiimwe said whereas they have addressed some of the challenges affecting the hospital, absenteeism of senior hospital staff was still a challenge.
“The hospital director and administrator are never at their duty station and I wanted the minister to prove that herself,” he said.
The RDC said his office had received information that the two senior members of the management team had fled from the hospital.
“They closed their offices and left. We do not know where they are operating from. It is disappointing for the minister to be received by cleaners and a receptionist,” Asiimwe said.
Dr Oscar Kaliisa, the deputy director of the hospital who arrived to receive the minister one hour later said they are overwhelmed by the big number of patients due to non-functionality of the existing lower health facilities.
“We get drugs but they do not last for long. We are overwhelmed by the big number of patients at the hospital,” he said.
Simon Muhindo, a psychiatric nursing officer in the mental health department, decried the mounting cases of drug abuse among people, which, he said, has led to increased cases of mental illness.
“Currently, we have high numbers of patients with mental problems and most of them it is because of drug abuse,” he said.